Rain (Forest) Check

The Amazon’s Skydiving
Spiders & Other Updates

Wonder what’s up with that other, more vital Amazon? Turns out, not nearly as grand as with its namesake commercial enterprise. In fact, weak regulations and public apathy have made its country host Brazil far from a safe harbor to the world’s largest rainforest.
Illegal logging continues rampant all over. Then there’s a just-established, and disturbing, link between its wildfires and Atlantic hurricanes; plus an expected ‘Godzilla’ El Niño season. But never mind climate change: worst of all are those pesky skydiving spiders falling all over the place.
Wonders are never in short supply, though. Take the research showing that the Amazon is way more diverse than originally thought, for instance. A recent study found a ‘hidden tapestry‘ of plant-based chemicals that determines growth and direction of its luscious species.
Or the Matsés, a tribe based in Brazil and Peru, that’s just compiled a 500-page encyclopedia summarizing its traditional medicine. Put together by five shamans, it’s likely the first treatise of its kind, with entries for therapies indicated to a massive variety of illnesses.
And then there are the efforts of forest activists who, despite mortal danger represented by armed gangs who roam the place on big landowners’ account, have been able to sustain an unsung but absolutely heroic battle to preserve what used to be called the ‘lungs of the world.’
To be fair, Brazil’s slowed down deforestation in the Amazon, albeit not nearly enough. Still its vastness, potential, and significance can’t be overstated. If we could only match its ability to wonder with a few miracles of our own, we’ll be in better shape now.

In the past decade, Brazil has cut down greenhouse gas emissions more than any other country, which is commendable. But a recent visit by embattled President Dilma Rousseff to Washington failed to (more)
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* Amazing Zone
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* Rainforest at Risk

muster enthusiasm for the outlook for preservation of the Amazon.
That’s because resources for the forest are dependent on an economic recovery that’s all but nowhere to be seen. Without fresh investment on enforcing laws against illegal logging, we may again hopelessly witness yet another cycle of destructive slash-and-burn tactics.
A high-tech strategy may come to the rescue, though, in the form of a program that digitally identifies and tracks wood patters. It was shut down in 2014 but will be back next year. It’ll provide Brazil’s forest agency Ibama a crucial tool to sort legal timber from illegal logging.

That slashing-and-burning, which legal and illegal loggers use to clear forest for pasture and agriculture, has just been fingered as culprit of another misdeed, besides air pollution and, well, killing trees that it causes: helping engorge Atlantic hurricanes visiting the U.S. east coast.
Not that they need any help, but strength and speed are boosted by warm waters set by a combination of factors triggered by ground-clearing fires, NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists say. Another courtesy of your always unfriendly man-made climate change, folks.
Not to push it, but here comes also a bigger, badder El Niño, the cyclical atmospheric phenomenon that wrecked global-escale havoc in 1997. The other kid that never grows up is visiting us again, now with a new nickname, Godzilla, and we’re the ones about to be taught better manners. Take cover.

It may not help you, though. With due respect to millions around the world whose life will worsen with rising sea levels, extreme weather, war over receding resources, and all miseries expected from a changing climate, nightmare has only one name in our book: spiders.
Now comes the heart-warming news that a two-inch nocturnal species, hairy of course, is a base-jumping specialist, able to steer middle flight to land anywhere, from the tree where it fell to most likely – nails on the blackboard – our heads. Oh, the horror, oh the humanity, etc.
But despite all that, you should know that we love and admire these creatures. Just not up close. These particular breed, being native to the Rainforest, a place we’ve spent months ages ago with no harm, gives us no cause for alarm. They’re there, we’re here, it’s all good.
That is, except if our own flight crashes there some day. But even then, we’ll certainly have other more pressing matters to be concerned about then. And should never ever think about the possibility of them being brought over here, aboard a banana or something, as often happens.
Oh dear, how are we supposed to end this now? Never mind, we’re safe, we think. Let’s just turn all lights on for now. And not to think about it, anymore. Zip it. What’s that noise? Relax, we say. Not to worry. Now if we could only find that bottle of Ambien. Stay away, Selenops.

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